Blackburn resident launches campaign to help find Asian stem cell donors (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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Blackburn resident launches campaign to help find Asian stem cell donors
A MAJOR drive to encourage the Asian community to donate stem cells has been launched in East Lancashire to help save the life of a young boy.
Blackburn resident Saima Ashraf, 30, has spearheaded the campaign to find a donor for six-year-old Rayaan Siddiqui after being shocked to find out that fewer than three per cent of Asian people in the UK were on the stem cell donor register.
Rayaan, from Welling, in Kent, who was diagnosed with a rare type of blood cancer, has a fight against time to find a donor to treat the condition called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis.
With a need for stem cells almost identical to his own for treatment to be effective, the best chance of finding a suitable match lies within someone of his own ethnic background.
Ms Ashraf, who works as an auditor at Thornton General, was compelled to head the search in Lancashire after hearing about his condition on a radio show.
According to recent statistics, only 50 per cent of people with the disease ever manage to find a matching donor.
She will hold a drive in conjunction with Delete Blood Cancer UK in Blackburn on August 31 to register people who will then be checked to see if they provide a match for Raayan.
She said: “I couldn’t believe that so few people were on the register but having spoken to my friends no-one seemed to know that they could sign up.
“I think it’s a lack of education about what stem cell donation actually involves and fear that it will contravene religious beliefs.
“Stem cell donation is very easy to do and it could save a life so it’s incredibly important that as many people come to the drive and sign up as possible.”
Sayeeda Mulla, wife of Mayor for Blackburn with Darwen Coun Salim Mulla, recently faced a long-running struggle of her own to find a kidney donor due to a lack of Asian donors.
Coun Mulla said: “I would encourage people to sign up to registers like this one.”
The stem cell drive will take place at Accrington Road Community Centre, in Accrington Road, Blackburn, from 11am to 5pm and will include a bouncy castle, mehndi stall and food.
For more information contact Ms Ashraf via her Facebook page Hope 4 Rayaan – Delete Blood Cancer Drive or contact 0203 1767632.
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